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"Smoldering" Steering Column?


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I had what can only be called a very strange and, apparently, transient incident with the steering column in my car.

The 1989 model year was the last without air bags and with the old style tilt and telescoping wheel.

While driving I smelled a slight acrid smell and when I turned the corner you could see a very fine strand of smoke rising from the steering column at the junction between the telescoping part of the steering wheel and the rest of the column. It was rising from almost precisely the 12 o'clock position. I quickly pulled over and turned the car off and the smoke ceased very quickly. I decided to release the telescope lock and push/pull the wheel in and out a few times. Upon restarting the car it was as if this had never happened. It has not recurred and I've been watching very carefully since then.

Does anyone have any theory about what this might possibly have been? Is it likely to happen again (or worse)? I can't even get a whiff of any off scent in the immediate area at this point. I'm wondering if there's any sort of electrical connection somewhat like is used in a track light system that can slide along as part of the telescoping that a bit of something might have fallen into causing it to arc and burn. I'd think a ribbon cable system would be more likely, but something has to allow the switches for the horn to keep their connections as the wheel moves. The horn switches both still activate the horn.

Thanks in advance for any troubleshooting advice.

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
britechguy@gmail.com   (540) 324-5032
"If it's got you screaming, I'll help you stop!!"
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It is likely some grease burning off on eor more of the contacts in the turn signal switch inside the column. While rare, it can happen and is usually harmless.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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agree with above. As the grease dries out the contacts get hotter than normal and will cause it to burn off a little bit. Usually only noted when the turn signals are left on for an extended period of time. If it otherwise works fine and doesnt continue I wouldnt worry about it.

GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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Thanks to you both for your much valued input. I'll just keep an eye on things and rest easy if it doesn't recur in short order.

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
britechguy@gmail.com   (540) 324-5032
"If it's got you screaming, I'll help you stop!!"
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  • 3 months later...

Well, it recurred again this evening. This time I allowed it to go on longer, turned off the car, waited a couple of minutes and started the car again. This time it only took about 30 seconds before it started again.

The smoke is definitely emanating from the segment of the column that's where the steering wheel connects to the column and can telescope. I can feel no heat at all even as the smoking becomes more pronounced.

I just don't want to ignore this and end up with either an "immense conflagration" or having something like the horns go out. Any further theories?

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
britechguy@gmail.com   (540) 324-5032
"If it's got you screaming, I'll help you stop!!"
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It is very likely the turn signal switch,

Lucky you for having a non airbag model. Much easier to replace

GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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It is nothing to worry about - just old grease from the turn signal switch.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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Kevin & rockfangd,

Thanks again for the input and reassurance. It will still take me a while to get used to the idea that a small, but very distinct, trail of smoke coming from the steering column "is nothing." It's just disconcerting to deal with and I hope the source material is eventually consumed.

Brian

Brian

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Bri the Tech Guy   http://britechguy.com
britechguy@gmail.com   (540) 324-5032
"If it's got you screaming, I'll help you stop!!"
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Kevin & rockfangd,

Thanks again for the input and reassurance. It will still take me a while to get used to the idea that a small, but very distinct, trail of smoke coming from the steering column "is nothing." It's just disconcerting to deal with and I hope the source material is eventually consumed.

Brian

I hear you on seeing smoke from the steering column. If it gets too bad, you can replace the turn signal switch in the column.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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